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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

A solid action game, however for the discerning gamer it's not something that really stands up next to it's film and book namesakes.

Did you like Gauntlet? I mean, did you really like Gauntlet? Seriously, I mean all of them, even the ones with the lame jester character and warriors that throw endless amounts of axes? Okay, then you are prepared for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Now I admit to not being a Harry Potter fan. I don't stay up at night with an official Hogwart's scarf wrapped around my neck and read the books into the wee hours of the night wishing I could use questionable Latin phrases to cast magic spells, and treat muggles as social pariahs that are only worthy of my contempt. So as far as I knew Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire entirely syncs up with not only the movie, but the literature as well. I was apparently incorrect.

So I employed (coerced) a couple of friends to determine whether the game was any good on other levels not normally available to me. Chris was my Harry Potter expert. He has read all the books, and viewed all the movies. Sarah has nothing but contempt for Harry Potter and is noted for harassing its fans with threats of violence and emotional abuse. With my crack team of experts at hand the game was on.

One thing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has in it's favor is multiplayer. You and two friends can play as Harry, Hermoine, or Ron. I chose Harry, as I hate all things Ron related, and am not emotionally developed enough to play a girl. Sarah was forced to play Hermoine because she is a girl, and Chris played Ron and was subjected to abject humiliation by the other players, and even at times, himself. Ron sucks.

(This is a good time to bring up Hermoine's facial expression, which is transfixed between angry, and possibly experiencing a painful memory at all times.)

The game opens up with a lackluster video which sums up the plot of the game (which mirrors the film and I will not expand upon) and gives the illusion of being three dimensional, but is in fact a still image panning and scanning across the screen. What would have been nice would be scenes from the feature film as in such EA licenses as The Lord of the Rings. However, panning and scanning seemed a more favored approach.

In the beginning the gameplay was actually entertaining. The spells are simple, but flashy, and therefore interesting in the "Ooo Ahhh" manner. The most favored spell by our cadre was the levitate spell. Latin name "Who Cares", this spell allows you to levitate enemies and huge boulders, which can be swung around and thrown into other enemies and players. This often led to the famous "Smash Ron with a boulder" mini game. I'm not entirely sure that intended by the developers, but it was a highlight to us.

As in other games (Gauntlet) the progression of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire became tedious after a few levels. Enemies are over replicated, as are puzzles, and objectives. This is not to say there weren't innovations in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Cooperative, team oriented, goals require players to work together to solve objectives beyond the "Everyone kill everything" bread and butter scenario. These too were replicated. However there were further issues that brought our fun to halt.

During critical moments in the game the camera would swing behind a tree or a pillar and obscure all players from view. During one climatic scene we were treated to an audio extravaganza as our players were roasted alive by a dragon as the camera was positioned conveniently behind a bush.

Objectives are not always clear, and at times, are not said at all. Many a mission we threatened to turn the game off if we didn't figure out what to do in the next ten minutes.

Especially irritating is as a character moves to the edge of the screen he will implore other characters to follow him by whining at them in British, which makes you dislike the characters even more, especially Ron who seems to be going through an endless puberty.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire will be good for your kids. According to recent polls children have low standards and love Harry Potter. Also it's not too complicated when you know what to do next. Unfortunately for the discerning gamer/Potter fan it's not something that really stands up next to it's film and book namesakes.

Review by Christopher Means.

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